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Feature: 'Techniques of Written Storytelling Applied to Game Design'

In today's main feature, writer and Microsoft Game Studios contributor Jeff Noyle takes proven written storytelling techniques, and explores them from a game design persp...
In today's main feature, writer and Microsoft Game Studios contributor Jeff Noyle takes proven written storytelling techniques, and explores them from a game design perspective, in hopes of inspiring better game storytelling. In the following excerpt, Noyle presents an introduction to his thoughts: "It's been said many times, and that's because it's obvious: game design must strive to become more emotionally involving, and the best way to achieve this is to create resonant characters. It's obvious, but it's only half the story. The characters whom we seek to fill with emotional depth are the non-player characters (NPCs). In games, we have another class of characters: player characters. At first glance, it would seem that the rich set of techniques available to us from the visual media of film and television is ideally suited to creating compelling game characters. This is true, but only for the NPCs. These techniques are irrelevant to presenting a player character, because a first-person player character isn't presented, it is experienced. It's not empathy that we wish to promote in the player character, but immersive agency. No film script ever had to concern itself with such a task. Where then do we look for guidance about how to promote an involving first-person experience? Written storytelling has been sharpening its own techniques for centuries. A first-person (or what's called a tight third-person) written account, one in which a character's deepest inner life is exposed, offers more insight into first-person gaming technique than does film, and in this article I will explore these well-understood techniques from a game design point of view." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, including the importance of showing and not telling in game storytelling (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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